It’s race day! The annual Jbay wind farm mountain bike race is here. Cyclists from all over South Africa have come to participate. Fierce competition was to be expected and prizes that would match the talent of the racers.
It’s my first ever mountain bike race. I have nothing to compare this to. It is all so mysterious, but packed with excitement. Am I fit enough? Will my bike survive on this terrain? And who am I even racing?
These were all the questions racing through my mind.
But how did I get here? How did it all start?
Let’s rewind a few months…
I was having breakfast one morning, or was it lunch I can’t remember, and the local newspaper was in front of me. So I do the obvious thing and not read the newspaper to keep up to date with politics and the nature of the town, but rather flip to the back and read whatever sport is going on.
After turning over the newspaper the first thing I notice is the mountain bike event is happening 10km away from my house!
Just to give a little info on what the race entails:
There are 3 distances one can race: The 25km, 50km and the ultimate challenge of 85km.
The event has been running for the past 7 years and this year it has become a lot more family friendly which now incorporated a 5km and 10km run for those who aren’t that crazy over cycling.
I was so glad that not only was there a bike race I could enter but also one that I can cycle to without needing to find a ride to get there.
I’ve been cycling to work and back every day and whatever errand I had for the day so I felt I had a lot of pre-fitness. So all that’s left is to go for longer cycles and fine-tune my technique.
It was tricky to go for long cycles because work being very time-consuming and having very little time for anything else in the day, and then to top it off the shortened sunlight due to it being winter.
I would go for one long cycle a week and each time I would add a few km to the tally. I was certainly getting fit and also getting some time for myself in an isolated place.
With places like this you get that sense of refreshment and peace with your situation.
One week prior to the race I was confident that I would at least finish the race but whether or not it was going to be a good time I had my doubts.
Now back to the present…
The 50km racers just set off and it was time for the 25km racers to go, I chose 25km because it was my first time racing with no real grasp of what would happen.
I was catching up with a friend so I ended up right at the back of over 150 racers not realising that they were going to start. I had no intention of winning but the intention of riding as fast as I could and leaving nothing behind. So starting at the back was not the end of the world but I would’ve preferred to be a lot closer to the front.
The countdown had begun. Less than 30 seconds to go. The excitement became evident amongst the racers including myself and once the countdown ended we rode off and the 25km race began…
Part 2 of the race coming tomorrow!